Is the Santander extra20 Checking Account Worth It?


Santander Bank is offering to pay you $20 a month for having a direct deposit of $1500 and making 2 bill pays through their system. I did some research on whether this offer is worth your time to do.

Santander allows you to apply for the extra20 account through their online system which is definitely the preferred method. Not only will it save you a trip to the branch but it will allow you to fund the initial account using a credit card up to $500. This is useful to meet minimum spend requirements for bonuses or just to get your cash back reward. However, be warned that depending on the card issuer, they may code bank fundings as a purchase or cash advance. Reports from people have said that Barclay's and Chase will code as a purchase. Citi and Discover have been reported to code as cash advances.

Myself unfortunately was not able to complete the application online as apparently I failed the identity questions. I was able to apply at a local branch which took about 30 minutes.

Once you have the account open, you will need to have $1500 worth of direct deposits and two bill pays to qualify for the $20 monthly. Note that if you fail to meet the direct deposit requirement, you will be charged a $10 account maintenance fee. The 2 bill pays are quite easy to fulfill. If you have two credit cards, you can simply do 2 minimum payments each month for $30 or whatever you want and pay the rest as you normally do.

The direct deposit will be a bit more involved but still not too difficult if you have the right setup. The simplest way is to change your payroll deposits to Santander but most people will have some other bank account which also requires an active direct deposit. The way around this is to open an online bank account that supports incoming and outgoing ACH transfers. The one I'm using is Alliant Credit Union but others like Chase, Paypal, and Capital One are also reported to work with Santander. Some banks that are reported to not work with this are Ally and Schwab. All you have to do is setup an outgoing transfer from Alliant for $1500 into Santander every month. Once it hits Santander, do your 2 bill pays then transfer the rest back into Alliant.

In my opinion this offer is worth doing considering the requirements are easy to hit. The only question is how long Santander will have this promotion. Since its been active since 2013, I'm confident that this will stick around at least for the near future to make signing up worth it. At $240 bonus a year, it makes it very competitive with the one time bonuses offered by most banks. I'm a fan of ongoing bonuses because I'm trying to build a passive income portfolio that hopefully will replace my job one day. Looking at this another way, you can lease a brand new car for $200 a month. This bonus is like 10% of a brand new lease. Now we just need to find a few more offers like this! If you're looking for similar offers, check out the AmEx Serve which can earn $20 monthly with even less hassle than this one.